This article discusses switching file managers in Mint 20. Especially for the xcfe release of Mint 20 this is recommended, but all releases are covered, with a variety of file managers available for selection!
What is a File manager
If you are used to using Microsoft Windows operating systems, you probably know about it
explorer.exe, that process that sometimes crashes and then most of your desktop icons, toolbar, etc. will be gone until you restart the process or restart your computer. Explorer.exe is the default file manager / explorer in Windows, and modifying it is quite challenging and is best reserved for professional users only.
There is much more freedom on Linux. The File Explorer doesn̵
Mint 20 is a great Linux operating system and a worthy alternative to using Microsoft Windows. With all the benefits of a modern Ubuntu based distribution and a smoother user experience all around, it can miss one thing though, and especially if you’re using the xcfe release: a better file manager!
Mint 20 Cinnamon is released with the nemo file manager. This file manager is based on the popular Nautilus file manager which in turn is the default in Ubuntu. Mint 20 Mate, on the other hand, uses the Caja file manager. And finally, Mint uses 20 xcfe ThunarThe xcfe release is a lighter release, with a snappy response and a minimal, non-cluttered UI.
Any of these file managers can be installed and removed at will, and you can install, for example Nautilus (native) by the way Thunar in xcfe. You can then use both, just like with other programs; they have their own icon (which looks somewhat in color, but not in design), and each file manager (program) has its own functions that may be of interest.
You can also delete Thunar and just Nautilus, or Nemo and so on.
Let’s take a look at how to install and remove any file manager:
to install Nemo
to install Nemo On your Mint Linux distribution, run the following command in your terminal:
sudo apt install nemo
to install Nautilus
to install Nautilus On your Mint Linux distribution, run the following command in your terminal:
sudo apt install nautilus
to install Box
to install Box On your Mint Linux distribution, run the following command in your terminal:
sudo apt install caja
Remove a file manager
To remove any of these just use the same command given in the respective installation sections, but swap the word
purge (which completely removes that file manager from your system), or
uninstall which removes the file manager but leaves the configuration for the same on your system.
I personally like and prefer the nemo file manager. It is an advanced and highly configurable (have a look at the menus) file manager. I personally don’t like the Thunar file manager, and don’t mind Nautilus Box also has many functions, but less than nemo which is also more configurable and takes up less screen space (screen real estate is a term that describes how optimally a program’s screen is designed).
If you’re ever unsure which file manager you’re using at any given time (it can be confusing if you’ve got a few installed), just click Help> About in File Manager. You will see a popup window similar to the following:
Reconfigure Mint to a different file manager
Once you’ve played with a few file managers and tested their options, menus, and operation, you’ll likely be the favorite of some and not most of the others. If so, go ahead and delete the other file managers using the instructions above.
After that, click on the Mint icon in your taskbar and start typing file managerVery soon the following will appear (depending on your Mint release, color selection and desktop settings this may look slightly different):
This ‘File Manager’ icon is associated with the default file manager on your system. You will probably (unless you kept the previous default file manager on your system) see the following dialog:
This is because Mint now no longer knows which file manager to use. Don’t worry, this is easy to set up. Click on the dropdown icon (the inverted triangle on the right). If the desired file manager is available, select it and confirm with “OK”. If your favorite file manager is not present, click on ‘Other …’ and you should now see this dialog:
This is usually the case for the nemo file manager. The Nautilus and Box The file manager installation process usually creates a preselectable option here.
Here you can simply type the name of your file manager (such as nemo or nautilus, although with box this doesn’t work, use the pre-installed selection). After that, if you click OK and enter again, you will see that the software automatically added an option
Useful! This variable is simply a link between each item that is clicked (for example, a folder icon on the desktop) and the file manager. In other words, everything that is clicked (stored in the variable
%s) are passed to the file manager in this case nemoClick OK twice and you are done. If you go back to the Mint icon> File Manager, you will now see your favorite file manager open (which you can confirm by clicking Help> About)
Mint is a great operating system, although it can lack a handy file manager by default, especially in the xcfe release. The Mint 20 MATE release also includes Caja as a file manager, which you may find less useful than the full file manager installed by default in Mint 20 Cinnamon; nemo
Installing, changing, removing and cleaning file managers were all covered and are easy to do even for a novice user. One can even use two file managers at the same time and get the best of both worlds. To enjoy!
If you want to learn more about Linux, check out the articles linked to under Linux articles by David McKay and Linux articles by Roel Van de Paar.